The quote is from Odyssey 10.84-6:
ἔνθα κ᾿ ἄυπνος ἀνὴρ δοιοὺς ἐξήρατο μισθούς,
τὸν μὲν βουκολέων, τὸν δ᾿ ἄργυφα μῆλα νομεύων·
ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε καὶ ἤματός εἰσι κέλευθοι.
where the Greek word rendered as "wage" is μισθός/misthos, which did denote a range of meanings depending on historical periods and geographic regions; but in its most common ...
Pre-modern payments for exertion were:
gratuities: such as the coin to the beggar
payment for an good or instant service: such as the loaf from the baker or the fuck from the whore
part of a long term relationship of continuing semi-servile labour: such as the cow herd or sheep pasturer
"Wage" here is entirely from a translation, so it is the translators' ...
The passage is an observation of an interesting characteristic of the location they are passing through at that time (ie. Telepylus). They note that the herders are coming in just at the precise time that the shepherds are heading out, and see this as an interesting symmetry of life in that place. It doesn't really matter what the employment arrangement is, ...